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Friday, December 30, 2005

Culture Wars

In which the author debates the relative value of French and Mexican cultures.

My family is French, or at least half French. We’re half French if that is possible while still remaining 100% white trash. We are zero percent Mexican, but I have spent enough time in that country to tell people, "Tengo alma Mexicano,” I have a Mexican soul. Let's suppose that I’m put in a sort of Sophie’s Choice situation where I am forced to choose between my two identities.

Everyone always talks about the French and their supposed joie de vivre and their certain je ne sais quoi which is just French for “God, you Americans are such fat, ignorant sacks of shit that you can’t even be bothered to learn two words of our language and then you come over here and yell at waiters in English and wonder why people are rude to you. Hopeless and pathetic is what you all are, so why don’t you stay home and order something at Chili’s® that sounds French and save yourself the trouble of coming over here.” Mexicans aren’t rude like that. They’re funny,

Maybe I’m too easily entertained but even Mexican food is fun. French are world famous for their cuisine (Stupid frogs calling their food “cuisine.” What nerve!), but it isn’t fun. Did you know that we don’t have a word in English for burrito. Even their food is more fun than ours; we can’t even translate their fun into English. Think about that. We have hamburgers, but they have a sandwich that is rolled up into a kind of log or something. Rolling something up is a hell of a lot cooler than just putting two pieces of bread together. Then there are tacos, which are like sandwiches, but get this, you fold them over. No kidding. Where do they think this stuff up? What do the French have to eat that is even half as much fun as nachos?
I don’t know if you have noticed this before but everything you say is funnier if you say it in Spanish. It’s true. Try it. Los serial killers, la fat chick, and el dead baby, these are horrible things in English but suddenly become hilarious once you switch over to Spanish.

Turn on French TV and you’re likely to have a couple of ultra-boring talking heads droning on about, “C'est une première dans le monde bancaire français. Au pays du chèque gratuit, les clients du CIC — filiale du Crédit mutuel — devront s'habituer à payer des chèques à partir du 1er janvier 2006. ” I’m not lying, their television is mind-numbingly dull. Watch Mexican TV and you’ll see a guy dressed up like a bumble bee or adults impersonating school kids. Either that or they have soap opera stars wearing toxic levels of mascara. Watch Mexican television for more than about ten minutes and you’re sure to see a nurse with huge cleavage wearing a short skirt. Not the French, they are too busy being “tasteful.” Where’s the fun in that?

You don’t have to tell me about French wine. I was getting blind drunk on French wine before I was even legal to buy a drink in America, so I guess you could call me somewhat of an expert. I spent an entire summer touring Bourgogne and on more than one occasion I’ve woken up face down in a puddle of expensive Bordeaux, so don’t try to lecture me on French viticulture. For all of the wine snobs out there I have one word: Tequila! I don’t remember ever getting drunk on French wine and then riding a motorcycle up a flight of stairs and parking it in my hotel room. I don’t remember doing that on tequila but a friend has a picture of it. The only thing that I barely remember about getting wasted on French wine is sitting around a café table trying to act smart. That isn’t fun for me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Guaranteed Fresh

I had a little scare around here the other day. I took the day off on Christmas, not by choice. I was actually closed down by the health department. It seems that someone was reading one of my essays last week and they found a bug in it—either a bug or a rat turd. The results haven’t come back from the lab, but I got closed down just to be on the safe side. The victim is claiming to have contracted hepatitis or botulism or cholera or split ends or some sort of horrible affliction from my essay.

From the symptoms I read on the health department report—diarrhea, vomiting, uncontrollable flatulence, yelling “Ay yi yi yi” at the top of their lungs, and firing pistols into the ceiling—it sounded like a simple case of Mexican food, but I can’t prove it. So instead of fighting the case in court I have agreed to clean things up around here. I’m wearing rubber gloves as I type this. They’re a little hot but they don’t really affect my typing skills. This hair net is really annoying. I’ve got really nice hair and this thing makes me look like a 1950s housewife. I don’t know how surgeons do it. I don’t care how much they make; I’d shave my head before I’d spend half the day wearing a shower cap in public. Doctors have to wear theirs around a lot of hot nurses. As a writer at least I’m alone when I have to wear mine.

I’ve started washing my hands after using the restroom. The signs are always in Spanish so I thought that English speakers didn’t need to wash up. My bad. I had to take a semester of college Spanish so that I could read the directions in the bathroom. Now I know what Despues de usar el baño, lavarse las manos means, and now I always do it, unless no one is watching.

From now on, each essay will be individually wrapped to insure freshness, expiration dates will be printed on every page, and if my writing appears rancid or moldy I’ll try to scrape off as much of the unpleasantness as I can before pushing it off on readers. I will no longer try to use comedy ideas that have been sitting around for months unrefrigerated. Only the most current pop culture references will be used in my jokes. No more head scratching as you try to understand illusions made to Car 54 Where are You? and no more Spiro Agnew impersonations (He was the vice president under...yeah right. Who cares?).

But can humor live in a completely sanitary environment? In the world of comedy occasionally someone needs to drop dead from food poisoning. Clean things up too much and you’re left with Family Circus cartoons and Golden Girls reruns. This is something that those bureaucrats from the health department just don’t understand. They seem to think that a humor essay shouldn’t have to be accompanied by a trip to the emergency room or an autopsy report.

Now that I’m no longer allowed to be the humor equivalent of Typhoid Mary I’ll have to find a new approach to getting laughs.

Modern Worries

I have it on vinyl!
Homophobe-phobia:  Fear of being branded as a homophobe

A generation ago it took great courage to stand up against racism and intolerance. In my life time blacks have been subjected to overt racism, homosexuals have been openly persecuted, and ethnic and religious minorities have had to bite their tongues while they were used as the punch lines for insensitive jokes. Everyone but the most ardent religious conservatives would agree that America is a more moral country than we were a few decades ago. It’s no wonder that guys like Rush Limbaugh long for the old days when fat white guys had it made. Oops, mustn’t say ‘fat,’ make that ‘gravitationally challenged.’

Conservatives mock the current climate of what they call ultra-political correctness. I have never viewed PC as something negative, I think that people just got fed up with taking their acceptance a little at a time, over the course of decades, and decided that we were going to get enlightenment shoved down our bigoted throats all at once. To paraphrase the over paraphrased Nietzsche, “That which we don’t choke to death on makes us stronger.”

Where I live, in one of America’s most progressive cities, about the worst thing you can be called in the circles in which I move is a bigot. It would be hard enough to be a political conservative in Seattle; forget about being a racist or a homophobe—not to say that these things are related. I’m just saying that most people here are flaming liberals, vocal, and proud of it.

The new movie, Brokeback Mountain, is billed as a gay western. I haven’t seen it nor do I plan to see it. It’s not the gay part that keeps me out of the theater; it’s the complete lack of appalling violence in the movie that scares the crap out of me. I have no interest in seeing Brokeback Mountain but I don’t want people to think that I’m avoiding the movie because I’m homophobic. I’m boycotting the film because the body count is too low for a western. I’ll admit that the thought of watching two guys make out makes me slightly uncomfortable, but not nearly as much as the thought of watching a western that doesn’t leave a trail of dead bodies in its wake.

You know what, fuck it. I'm going to go see Brokeback Mountain by myself at a matinee. Are you happy now? 

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Proper Catch Phrase Usage

I hate to bring up a topic this vulgar, especially on such a genteel and innocent forum as the internet, but I must do so to illustrate my point. A few months ago, on a farm near Seattle, a man died while having marital relations with a horse, or the horse with him. I’m sorry that I don’t have all the details, but, as they say, you can look it up. I heard that he died of a broken heart. In a less publicized incident at that same farm, another man remains in stable condition after being gang banged by roosters in a poultry/man sex ring. It was a pretty popular topic of conversation for a few days. I don’t think there is anything newsworthy in such sordid tales, but when I overheard some people talking about the matter I was able to shoehorn in one of my favorite stock phrases. I interrupted their conversation by saying, “That’s not funny; my brother died that way.”

I stole that line from an Onion article and I like to use it as often as possible. If you're looking to get on my good side please look for appropriate moments to employ this line. Granted, you could probably live several lifetimes and not have the stellar opportunity I had during the great Seattle horse boning massacre, but you need to stay alert for your chance. There are several other stock phrases that I like to weave into conversation whenever possible. Let me help you out with a few examples of their proper usage.

“I’ll need to talk this over with one of my managers first.”
I don’t know why I think this is funny, but it is—especially when you use it as a response to a request made during sex. This line lets everyone know that you are paralyzed because the matter is out of your hands and the complete responsibility of your superiors. This catch phrase would work with any of the following questions:
“Sir, could you move your car. You’re parked on my cat.”
(On an elevator) “Can you push 2?”

Keep moving, folks. The show’s over.
The more theatrical your delivery of this line, the more trivial the incident, the funnier this line becomes. I am tempted to carry a whistle and a crossing guard reflector vest at all times so that when I belt out this line after a friend spills a little coffee at a café I look more like an authority figure when I direct traffic. A bullhorn would be even better.

Don’t you know there’s a war going on?
I used this line the other day at my club on a girl who forgot her gym membership card. Don’t worry, she didn’t get it either.

Would you care to make this more interesting?
This is something that James Bond might say to an evil nemesis instead of the more common, “Care to make a friendly wager?” This line is only funny if you say it at an extremely inappropriate moment, like to a stranger urinating next to you in a public toilet.

The hunter has become the hunted.
This one requires that you talk with a Jacques Cousteau accent. It’s probably funniest when it makes absolutely no sense in the context in which it is used. Nature shows are a gold mine when it comes to finding new catch phrases.

It’s a victimless crime.
This is how a friend describes employee theft. I think that the definition can be expanded to any crime that you can pull off without getting caught.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Seattle Gangster

based on a true story

I was waiting at a traffic light yesterday when a meter maid asked me why I wasn’t wearing a bike helmet. She was in one of those funky meter maid golf carts they drive here in Seattle. This could have been the end of my helmet-less reign of terror, but I’m too quick-witted to have my criminal career undone by a parking ticket jockey. I thought for a few seconds, I pretended I was coughing, then I blew my nose, and then I came up with something. I told her that someone stole my helmet.

This response was brilliant on so many levels that I may need to enlighten you on a few of them. First of all, if someone stole my helmet I couldn’t possibly be wearing it in its present state of stolen-ness. Secondly, seeing that she is an officer of the law—and I’m being generous—it is only through her ineptitude that someone was allowed to steal my helmet. Put the ball in her court. The best defense is a good offense. I'm sure there are some other sports metaphors, or analogies that I could throw around here but I'll move on. Thirdly, I’m pretty sure that I could outrun a meter maid cart; at least I could outdistance one over the course of its battery life. For the rest of the day I fantasized about being involved in a low-speed chase around downtown Seattle as parking violators cheered wildly from their expired parking spots while I was pursued by several unarmed parking enforcers.

Lastly, she was totally hot. Meter maids seem to fall into three categories: Truly frightening old hags, younger men with obvious mom/authority issues, or hot ass younger women. They all seem to have one thing in common and that is an almost complete lack of humor, although this one laughed when I told her not to worry that I wasn’t wearing a helmet because I have a steel plate in my head. This encounter ended with the two of us having sex on the hood of a double-parked limousine. At least that is how my fantasy chase scene ended.

My point here is that I’m a gangster. I have no respect for the law, I play by my own rules, not the ones the Man tells me I have to live with. Like that last line. I know you aren’t supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, but I say, “Fuck that.” Strunk and White can kiss the preposition on the end of my ass. I could have been another middle-class, white male caught up in our criminal justice system, just another helmet law statistic, but I used my wits to get out of a tough jam. Sure, I lied to the meter maid, but if she had pressed the matter, my lawyers would have tied the case up in court for a decade.

Here in Seattle, you can’t buy street cred like that. Before you know it everyone in town will know that I went toe-to-toe with a meter maid and I won. Even if I lost the case in court everyone knows that nobody fucks with helmet law violators in prison. We’re only one step below pet owners who don’t keep their dogs on a leash in the prison respect pecking order. I'd make some HOV lane violator my bitch.

Some dude reading this essay over my shoulder at the library told me that it was totally lame. I told him to shut his cake hole or I’d fuck his shit up. "Hold on, someone is paging me." He puts the pager back on his belt and grabs his phone and holds it up and tries to look menacing. He says he’ll use his cell phone to call 911 before I throw down. Said he has it on speed dial. I tell him I’ll text message 911 with his full description, address, and a list of the bootleg mp3s he has on his iPod. He tells me he’ll spam my web site. Now it’s totally on. To show him I’m not playing I take a picture of him on my phone and then I download it to my palm pilot. That way I can fax it; you can't do that with a phone. I could do a video stream, too. It's a fairly simple process. Yeah, that’s right. Just walk away, bitch.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sleeping with the Enemy

Learn this recipe to trick her into thinking that you know how to cook.
Feature article in a men’s magazine.

I have a confession to make. I’m not a movie producer. I don’t drive a Ferrari. My 85 foot yacht is not in dry dock for the winter. In fact, I don’t have a boat; not even a canoe. I don’t know how to spell ‘yacht,’ I had to look it up—both times I used it in this paragraph. To be completely honest, absolutely everything that I told you at the bar last night was bullshit and now that we’ve had sex I feel slightly guilty about how I presented myself. You have to admit, it was a pretty good story. I’m sure that if I were a young, impressionable girl like you I would have done me last night.

I guess that I shouldn’t be too proud of my effort. It’s not like I adlibbed that whole persona. I’ve been working on a version of that story most of my adult life. If I had put 1/100 of the effort into actually improving myself instead of creating the phony me you met last night I’d probably be a remotely interesting person. Trust me; I’m not a remotely interesting person.

If I’m going to trick a woman into thinking something about me that isn’t true, it’s going to be something more impressive than chicken cacciatore. Like the time I killed a guard and escaped from a Guatemalan gulag while being held as a political prisoner. Women are really impressed when you tell them about the time you landed a jumbo jet after the pilot had a heart attack—especially if you are exceedingly nonchalant about the affair. You were just doing what anyone else would have done.

I actually feel sorry for guys who have shot their way out of a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan because I have used that story so often that any real war heroes run the risk of boring the shit out of their girlfriends with their painful stories. I went so far as to inquire about tattoos that look like bullet holes. I heard that they are painful so the only injury I incurred during the ambush is a scar on my lip I got from hitting my head on the monkey bars when I was seven.

From a casual glance at the major men’s magazines, you have to wonder if the men who read these rags even care about women. Most of their stories are geared towards personal grooming:

How do I blow dry my Hair?
Hair product nightmare
To chest wax or not?
Take on your 500 biggest fashion dilemmas
Don’t be afraid to wear silk

With these headlines the biggest trick you’ll have to pull off with women is convincing them that you’re heterosexual. These magazines skate around the fact that their readers aren’t interested in women nearly as much as they are concerned about whether or not their double-breasted suits makes them look chubby. For the readers who absolutely insist that they are not gay, there are plenty of articles that treat relationships like some sort of competition against an enemy: Think of Al Qaeda with a vagina.

There is a how-to manual that lays out the right time to get laid. The authors have narrowed down the exact times that you need to move in for the kill. I suppose that they feel that talking to women at any other time in the day is a waste of your time, time you could spend shopping for cute new low-cut jeans.

Magazines for women are worse, if that is somehow possible. I can’t even begin to understand the psychology behind their editorial content. As far as I can tell they seem to think that male/female relations boil down to some sort of quid quo pro arrangement and the women’s magazines claim to make you a better negotiator. They map out elaborate strategies that are similar to the features in Field & Stream. The articles in all of these magazines are remarkably similar. Field & Stream’s 100 Best Hunting Tips could easily translate into a Cosmopolitan expose on landing a stock broker, or a Details’ primer on how to bang a cocktail waitress. The ideas are all the same, they just use different vocabulary. Learning to cook a single dish so that you can “trick” a woman (Men’s mags call them “hotties”) into thinking that you are sensitive is no different than wearing a camouflaged hat so that you can blow a deer’s brains out.

Happy Hunting!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Privacy Problems

There is a disturbing trend in pop culture that is destroying the lives of ordinary, tax-paying, American citizens. I’ll admit that I didn’t really pay much attention to this problem, although I had heard numerous horror stories. And then it happened to me. I’m talking about reverse stalking. I’m talking about celebrities becoming so disenfranchised with their own sordid lives that they prey on normal people.

It seemed harmless at first. I would walk out of my apartment and be greeted by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who had camped out on my doorstep just to get a look at me as I go about my daily routine. I didn’t bother me and they weren’t hurting anyone. I wish they wouldn’t leave their trash behind when they do their all-night vigils. They left a pile of empty pork rind bags, malt liquor bottles, and four jars of Vienna sausages in the hallway. No big deal, I guess. Although I can’t prove it, I’m pretty sure that Angelina defecated in the stairwell. As you can imagine by the diet she was on, it was fairly lethal. I suppose that’s the price I pay for being obscure.

Robert Downey Jr. has really become a pain in the ass when he learned that I have never had a drug or alcohol problem. Somehow he got a hold of my phone number and he has been calling me several nights a week and asks the same questions. “So you just go into a bar, order a beer, drink it, ask for the check, leave, and go home? How do you do that? How do you not end up in a pool of your own filth at six in the morning somewhere in another state? What’s your secret?” I wish that I knew so that I could tell him and he could leave me the fuck alone.

It would be nice if I could go to my local pub and have a meal without being hounded half to death by the A-list crowd. I’ll be sitting at the bar minding my own business and Bono or someone will come over. “How’s the Rueben sandwich in this place? I was thinking of ordering it. Is it good? What about the fries? Do you think that I should go with the side salad instead?” I try to be polite but sometimes I lose patience. I was trying to watch the game the other day when Ben Afleck came up and asked me for my autograph. He handed me one of the placemats they give little kids to color on. I told him to grow up and went back to the game.

I can put up with all of the petty annoyances of being stalked by celebrity paparazzi, but sometimes it goes too far. Britney Spears carved my name on her arm with a straight razor—like that is going to impress me. It’s sad to think that this is what passes for love with the stars. It’s creepy and I told her so.

The last straw was when I found out that Tom Cruise was publishing a magazine devoted entirely to yours truly. "Tom, I know that you think I'm dreamy, but I'm really not very tall. Actually, most people would consider 5'9" to be fairly short." He told the other movie stars that he would pay top dollar if anyone could get a picture of me in the nude. "Tom, how many times do I have to tell you? I don't like you in that way."

I decided that I had to pull the plug on the whole deal. I went to the Academy Awards celebration because I knew that most of my stalkers would be there and I told them that they needed to start living their own lives. I told them that their fascination with my personal life was unhealthy and destructive. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but I thought it was for their own good.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Belltown A.M.

The sky is so clear that you think that your eyesight must have improved with the sleep you got the night before. Across the Puget Sound, individual houses on the distant islands seem to come into focus. On the other side of the Sound the snow from the Olympic peaks appears to slide all the way to the water’s edge. Although it is cold, the bright sunshine makes it feel a lot warmer. I pull on the gloves I keep in my pocket and coast through the deserted downtown street. At any other time of the day this area is a quagmire—even on a bicycle—but early on a Sunday morning I have the roads to myself.

The Belltown area of Seattle where I live is the center of nightlife in Seattle. New bars, clubs, and restaurants have been popping up like weeds in an untended garden. They seem to thrive in this ecosystem dominated by the huge construction cranes that are turning empty lots into 20 story apartment buildings. At this early hour, the only other people on the street are people walking their dogs. It doesn’t matter if you went to bed early with a good book or stayed out until last call, the dog needs to go out first thing in the morning.

The disposable coffee cup seems to have welded itself into the DNA structure of every Seattleite—at least before noon. The Belltown bars may rule for a few hours on Friday and Saturday nights, but coffee shops offer the drug of choice for most of the day, seven days a week.

On other mornings I wake up to total darkness. I don’t need to look out the window to know what the weather is like. I can hear the lugubrious bellowing of foghorns in the bay below my apartment. I grab a different kind of coat on these mornings. Something waterproof and maybe something warm to wear beneath it. I have never owned so many different kinds of coats as I have since moving to Seattle. Intelligent clothing combinations here are almost as infinite as moves on a chess board, and every bit as strategic.

The need for coffee on the cold and rainy mornings is even more desperate than usual, but after living here long enough to consider myself to be a resident finally, I have noticed something about the people who live here. As the days get shorter, colder, and wetter Seattleites don’t embrace their fate with a cold stoicism, they absolutely relish the gloom of the coming winter solstice. People don’t complain about the rain, they hardly even acknowledge its presence. During downpours most residents don’t even bother with umbrellas. You can call me a sissy, but I still shamefully use one in the worst of storms.

I won’t be needing an umbrella today. Maybe I’ll do something highly original like ride my bike to the top of Queen Anne hill and take a picture of Mount Rainier. Whatever I decide to do today it will have to come after I stop for a coffee.

Friday, December 16, 2005

War on Christmas Update

This is the last in our series The War on Christmas in which we here at the Discover It Institute in Seattle, Washington have examined the godless attack against America’s biggest shopping holiday and birthday of our savior.

This is part of our The Science of Christmas initiative in which we attempt to prove through scientific method that Christmas is real. We felt that we could provide more conclusive evidence than the 10,000 letters addressed to Santa Claus that vindicated Saint Nick in Miracle on 34th Street. We felt that only through scientific methods could we coerce retailers into returning to the good old days when clerks could greet shoppers with “Merry Christmas” instead of the hyper politically correct “Happy Holidays” now currently in vogue.

We began with a list of Christmas truisms and exposed them to the cruel scrutiny of scientific investigation.

For most of you, apocryphal accounts of flying reindeer and popular ballads of the exploits of Santa’s sleigh drivers are all the proof you need, but we wanted to establish this fact scientifically. We traveled to the Lapland region of Finland to find a herd of reindeer. We transported fifteen of the sturdiest examples of the breed to our testing center at the Space Needle in Seattle. Working closely with a team of aerodynamic engineers from Boeing Aircraft we joyfully launched the reindeer, one by one, from the top of this Seattle icon.

Can reindeer fly?

The short answer is “Hell no.” The Boeing people actually said that what they saw was the exact opposite of flying, but many of the test subjects certainly displayed characteristics of a species that desperately wanted to fly, and that is good enough for us. On a side note, reindeer meat is quite flavorful and tender, although the tenderness may have been the result of dropping the animals from 605 feet.

For our next experiment we enlisted the help of 65 year old Armando Escovedo. We lowered the retired Seattle fireman into a chimney and waited to see how long it would take him to make it into the living room.

Could Santa Claus slide down a chimney?

Although paramedics pronounced Mr. Escovedo dead at the scene after spending nearly three hours extracting him from his sooty grave, we feel that our test subject may have had other health issues that contributed to his demise and to the failure of our experiment. We are experiencing some difficulty in finding another old, gray-haired, and overweight volunteer for further investigation into this matter.

Although they refused to identify themselves as elves, we employed a group of midgets to work under harsh artic conditions.

Can elves make toys for every child on the planet?

Yes! Yes! Yes! This experiment was a resounding success and we proved, without a doubt, that working a small group of “elves” 20 hours a day, seven days a week our team was able to make a hell of a lot of toys. Granted, the toys were kind of crappy, and thanks to an Amnesty International report we’re not exactly going to win any awards for being employee friendly, but given the right motivation it certainly is possible to have a small group of height-challenged workers produce a prodigious amount of toys. The trick is to keep them properly motivated at all times. We recommend keeping family members hostage, frequent beatings, and providing an open bar at all company functions.

We could have gone on with our tireless inquiry but let us remind you that our sister institute here in Seattle, the Discovery Institute, had even less of a factual basis behind their highly-successful Intelligent Design campaign.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sexorama

Don't know what's for sale, don't care.
Sex sells. Ask anyone. I recently embarked on a six month campaign to make myself as sexy as humanly possible. After I had done everything humanly possible I enlisted the help of science to pursue as many inhuman/nonhuman/subhuman avenues to sexiness as are available to the American consumer. I wish that you could see how sexy I am now. I’m all muscles, abs, dimples, high cheekbones, low-cut jeans, bulges, lumps, humps, swellings, hi-lights, hair plugs, butt plugs, Botox, piercings, tattoos, tummy tucks, butt lifts, face lifts, face peels, low-carb meals, and Viagra. On top of all those improvements, I stick a sock in my pants just to be on the safe side.

Now I am so sexy that I am starting to leak. Does anyone have a tissue? I hope that doesn’t stain my new sexy furniture. Who would have thought that being this sexy was going to be so messy? With almost every step I take I’m squirting something out of somewhere. I’m so fertile these days that I actually knocked-up someone at my bank—over the phone! I don’t even know her name.

The whole concept of "sexy" has been so worn-out by advertisers that by now "sexy" is like some 90 year old transvestite prostitute that the marketers doll up in a fresh coat of make-up and hot pants and put back on the street, night after night. The old whore is forced to sell everything from paper towels to cellular phones, and if she comes home empty-handed she gets slapped around.

In our era, things like palm pilots, mini-vans, cuff links, SUV’s, bow ties, hand bags, shitty light beer, deodorant, and just about everything else that can be bought or sold is touted as being "sexy." When during the transaction, at what point during the consumerist shell game does society lose track of what human sexuality is all about? How long can we subject ourselves to the marketing glory hole before our genitalia become vestigial organs like our appendices or tail bones?

I’m not a 90 year old transvestite hooker—not yet, anyway—but if I wee I’d wear a thong and low-cut jeans so when I sat on a bar stool everyone could look at my hairy, shriveled backside. I mention this because I forgot to mention earlier that, according to the advertising geniuses, ‘sexy’ is the realm of the young. Marketing creeps feel that 18 is the perfect age, but that is only because that is as young as they can get away with selling in lieu of our current judicial system. In the absence of consent laws I’m almost certain that marketers would use a female fetus to sell light beer. You can’t be too young or too thin, as they say (I’m quite sure that the "they” here are advertisers).

I’m not fat, old, and ugly—not yet, but I hope to make it there some day. Something that I have always suspected, and what advertisers don’t want you to know, is that fat, old, and ugly people are capable of achieving orgasm. I’d bet that right now there are old, fat ugly people humping their brains out and they are doing it without paper towels or shitty light beer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

While Visiting the Louvre


They say that when you die the first thing that happens is that you crap yourself. After all the heartache and indignity that we endure throughout our lives, to think that this is the thanks we get at the moment of our demise really pisses me off, if you’ll pardon the poor choice of words. I don’t understand why people get so concerned over issues like infant mortality and crib death. At least babies are wearing diapers when they die, so they’re covered, so to speak, when the inevitable bowel spilling occurs at check-out time.

This is not how I want to go out. Either I go without food and water for a week before I die or I come up with some other plan. When I die I have decided that I want fireworks to come shooting out of my intestinal tract. It doesn’t have to be an entire Fourth of July celebration; maybe something like a boat flare would be more appropriate. Or maybe just a sparkler pops out, or better yet, one of those birthday candles that stays lit even when you try to blow it out. That would be hilarious. Balloons would be a really nice touch, but I can only imagine that what they would be filled with—considering their source—would take the life out of the party if some little kid accidentally popped one. I have no first-hand knowledge as to whether or not these gas-filled balloons present a fire hazard even though I went to scout camp when I was a kid.

Is there any way possible for me to salvage even a shred of respectability from an essay that touches on such disturbing matters as incontinence at the time of death, crib death, and fart balloons? My intentions were good. All I was trying to do was elevate humanity at our lowest point and make it a more joyous occasion. It’s not like I came up with the idea that when you die you shit yourself. If were up to me I’d have a white dove fly out of my blow hole, not a steaming pile of the Indian food I had for dinner, which smells even worse now than when the waiter brought it out last night. So don’t blame me. Take the issue up with your pastor, or rabbi, or imam, or maybe a justice of the peace.

I think that this essay is the low point of my writing career thus far so tomorrow I will write a humorous essay about the classiest thing that anyone could possibly imagine. I’ll write an amusing anecdote about something that happened to me when I was visiting the Louvre in Paris. And it didn’t happen in the bathroom because that would totally defeat the whole purpose of trying to elevate my writing. Nope, my next essay will be pure class.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Unexamined Consumer: America’s Lost Voice

An unexamined product isn’t worth buying.

To answer why a local NBA star would go through the trouble to get a new type of mobile phone sent to him from one of only five cities that sell it, the Seattle Times replied, “If you have to ask, you probably aren’t cool enough.” The piece goes on to say just how cool the new $400 phone is and how many celebrities are using it. I would rather grade the spelling tests of a group of special education third graders than read the quasi-literate text messages sent by the high-profile morons featured in the article. I guess this means I’m not “cool.” I’m definitely not “cool” enough to wear one of those retarded cell phones that clip to your ear and look like a hearing aid from about 1952.

This same paper had a four column, half page article about the new version of King Kong which never once mentioned the fact that the $200 million movie is almost assuredly a complete piece of shit. I heard Kong’s director talking on NPR about the movie in such reverential tones that you would think that he had written a sequel to The Iliad in ancient Greek. I was waiting for the radio host to stop Mr. Jackson and ask, “But isn’t this movie just a remake about a big, horny monkey?”

The automobile section of every American paper supposedly gives consumers an unbiased view of the product for sale but I have never read a review that questions whether or not this country really needs another over-priced, gas-guzzling leviathan on the streets. The auto section is supposed to provide consumer information but all that I see is advertising.

The New Yorker magazine has a weekly movie review section that almost always reviews the big, shitty Hollywood blockbusters, even though I hardly think that readers of that magazine would bother to see a film like Charlie’s Angels. The magazine will often ignore smaller budget movies that are geared towards intelligent adults. It’s most critical reviews are often of small budget independent films. That’s like picking on the smallest kid in the class who doesn’t have a big brother. Once again you have to ask yourself if this is consumer education or product cheerleading.

A casual glance at the bigger, high-gloss magazines and it becomes pretty obvious that they are about 90% devoted to advertising. It’s not that I have anything against a magazine making money, but if marketing drives its content then it becomes not much more than a shopping flyer.

TV is the worst offender in keeping the public uninformed about consumer choices. Television’s message seems to be, “Buy it and shut the fuck up.” “But…what about…” “We said buy it and shut your pie hole.” OK, we got it.

If newspapers, magazines, radio (even ad-free NPR), and television all seem to be too heavily influenced by marketing to give the public an objective view of contemporary America, where do we go to find the truth? Beats the shit out of me. Modern American fiction seems to be fairly hopeless from what I have read. Most writers don’t seem to know much about anything except writing. I don’t want to read anything by someone who just spent two years in a writer’s workshop. I’d rather read a book by someone who just spent two years in prison in Guatemala or two years working in a Nigerian diamond mine. If you are writing about the life of a writer you have already failed as far as I’m concerned.

America is in desperate need of voices. Product hawkers and naval gazers we got in spades. We need witnesses, not parrots. I have nothing against buying stuff, but it isn’t an end in itself.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

What's that Smell?

With that first whiff you hardly notice. You are only aware that something is slightly amiss. You try to go about your business but there is no mistake; that is no alpine meadow you are smelling. You cautiously inhale through your nose. Oh yes, that is definitely not good. That is mildly offensive, no doubt about it. Now it’s starting to roll in like a morning fog, a very unpleasant haze. The fetid fog is quickly becoming a malodorous miasma. I’ll just spray a bit of this air freshener. OK, this isn’t funny anymore. It’s official now; it stinks in here. The smell has just graduated into a stench. Can someone open a window? PU.

Who died? For the love of all that is holy, can somebody light a match or something? I would burn down an orphanage if it meant that smell would go away. The aroma is so bad that I think that I may be asphyxiating. Think of a wonderful perfume, and now think of the exact opposite, now think of it being ten times worse than the opposite of the world’s finest perfume. Now try to imagine that someone has crammed your nasal passages with the rancid flesh of a rotting musk ox carcass, a rotting musk ox carcass with BO.

What could possibly be the source of this profane stench? Take a guess. The smell is coming from God’s little miracle: the human body. There is no getting around it; we reek something fierce. Left to its own devices, the human body would gag a maggot, it could knock a buzzard off a meat wagon, it can peel paint.

At least this is what American advertisers would have you believe. So much of America's economy is based on the buying and selling of products to combat odors. Marketers have done a great job of making us self-conscious of every single human emanation and discharge. To an advertiser, an armpit is a stinking Chernobyl, the human foot becomes a malodorous Katrina, and the mouth is more disgusting than a port-a-potty at a chili cook-off. Michelangelo took a hunk of marble and fashioned David, advertisers take the human body and make you believe that it is an olfactory holocaust that requires a long list of products to keep it even remotely tolerable.

Lemony fresh, pine scented, maximum strength deodorizer, odor neutralizer, kills germs that cause bad breath, peppermint, and these are all things supposedly contained in a single breath mint the size and shape of a rat turd. Your body is a toxic waste dump. There is more than a need to keep a constant vigil, no, you need to wage an all-out war to combat the forces of odor that live inside of you. It is a life-long battle that begins with a baby’s first diaper change, through the disgusting hormonal teen years, and ending in death. That’s when humans really start to stink up the place. We actually have to be buried or burned when we die because of the horrible smell.

This inexorable process initiated by advertisers has finally taken on the human body’s biggest odor challenge: excrement . Someone has produced a pill that lessens the odor of fecal matter. Now if they can just do something about the taste.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Oral Junk Mail

I was driving across town the other day with a friend and I was in the middle of telling him a story about getting a broken window fixed in my car when I slammed on the brakes. “Oh my God, this story is really boring but I don’t know how to extricate myself from it unless I just stop right this second.” My friend agreed. I cut as quickly as I could to the conclusion of my tedious tale. I wondered out loud whether or not it was even safe for me to drive while telling such a dumb story. People faint from boredom all the time. "What about me? I have to listen to this drivel." My friends are always there for support. Perhaps I am kidding myself but I don’t think that as a general rule I am a boring storyteller.

What I should have done was to stop in the middle of my story to see if my friend was paying enough attention even to notice. I will try that the next time that I think that I am recounting a less-than-thrilling tale. A lot of people that I know suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder so if they aren’t following what I say it may not always be my fault but can be attributed to the fact that they watched too much TV growing up.

I have considered not talking at all. I could just learn sign language but then I thought about how boring a boring story could be in sign language. The only advantage I saw in this is that the sign for “Shut your cake hole” is a lot more polite than the oral version. I could write all of my stories on paper thus giving those around me the option of either skipping over the truly pointless passages or simply discarding my dispatches like so much junk email.

Let’s face it. We are all pretty boring. Not many of us have great stories to tell, at least not very often. Not only are our stories boring, but they don’t have the arresting openings of junk mail. We delete, without reading, junk mail with subject lines like “Coed Naked Teens” and “Earn Millions Refinancing Your Home” so why do you think we want to hear your story that begins, “I was watching this show on the Weather Channel last night…?” I’m quite sure that I have told some stories so boring that my friends wonder why humans ever bothered to develop the capacity for speech.

Since we are being so out in the open and honest, let me just say that you guys are pretty boring most of the time. I would rather listen to a car alarm go off than hear you tell me about the weird dream you had last night. What’s that you say? You already heard my story about how I got locked out of my apartment and had to sleep in the hallway? Delete. Excuse me but I was just trying to fill the conversational vacuum so that you wouldn’t go on for fifteen minutes about your new diet. Delete. Yes, I know that I am still talking about the Tour de France and it was over five months ago. Delete. At least I’m not talking about the mermaid baby you saw on Oprah. Delete. What’s that? Well, I’m not talking to you either.